Cufflinks are used to close the cuffs of a shirt with French cuffs. French cuffs, also called double cuffs, have a hole on each side of the cuff as opposed to having a buttonhole on one side and a button on the other.
So, cufflinks serve the same purpose as buttons on the sleeves of a shirt, however, they are generally considered slightly more elegant than a shirt with simple buttons. Today, cufflinks are not the norm, but they add a little flare that can make someone stand out from the crowd.
To wear cufflinks, slip into a shirt with French cuffs. The fabric may feel loose at your wrists since nothing is holding it together. The cuffs may also have an extra flap of fabric located at the end of the sleeve. Fold this fabric back to make a neatly folded cuff. Line up the buttonholes on the layers of the cuff and on the two pieces that need to come together.
Cufflinks come with different mechanisms to close them. One type of cufflink has a post with a swivel bar. With a post cufflink, close the swivel bar of the cufflinks in order to place them through the buttonholes. Once the cufflink is threaded through the holes, open the swivel bar. This will keep the swivel bar in place.
Other cufflinks include button-style cufflinks; these have two identical buttons, linked together with a short piece of chain or cord. To wear these cufflinks, simply slide one button through the aligned buttonholes. A button will display on each side.
Clip cufflinks, like button-style cufflinks, have an ornamental piece that displays on each side. Clip cufflinks have a front and back and clip together in the middle where they meet inside the aligned buttonholes.
Silken knot cufflinks have two silk knots held together by a short silk cord. These work just like the button-style cufflinks. To wear these cufflinks, simply slide one knot through the aligned buttonholes; a knot will display on each side of the cuff.
Occasionally a formal rental shirt will have buttons with buttonholes next to them. These also accommodate cufflinks. Simply slide the post of the cufflink through the hole and ignore the button.
Generally, cufflinks should not overwhelm an outfit. Instead, they should be understated and match the shirt, jacket, or other jewelry. It is most common to match a shirt with a colored cufflink. For less formal occasions, cufflinks are often silver or gold-toned metals and may have a colored stone.
While real silver and gold are always acceptable, stainless steel cufflinks are becoming more popular for the office. For a more formal occasion, it is common to match the jacket being worn. Some of the stones most commonly used to make cufflinks are black onyx or white mother-of-pearl.
For more flashy occasions, cufflinks may have gemstones or elaborate designs. It is also acceptable to match the colors in a tie with cufflinks if the occasion is not too formal.
For truly distinctive and personal cufflinks, consider a one-of-a-kind antique pair or find an elegant pair and have them monogrammed.